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Gritty Saha leads Bengal charge

cricket Updated: Mar 10, 2012 22:28 IST
Khurram Habib
Khurram Habib
Hindustan Times
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Just as Wriddhiman Saha came out of the dressing room, the media hounded him. But the pint-sized Bengal batsman, who has notched up six successive fifties in the Vijay Hazare national one-dayers, including one on Saturday, remained composed.

His temperament has been the main reason behind Bengal’s entry to the final of the Vijay Hazare Trophy this season.

Saturday’s game looked even till the end as Punjab kept plucking wickets at crucial intervals while defending 206. But Saha, staying solid, helped himself to singles on a sluggish track.

“Planning an innings is what I’ve learnt from sessions with Duncan Fletcher in Australia,” he said after scoring 53* in Bengal’s three-wicket win in the semifinal against Punjab. “The more I bat in pressure situations, the better I’ll get.”

The pressure was on him as skipper Sourav Ganguly could manage just a cameo. A slash over point for a six, a drive through covers for four had excited the 100-odd people, but Ganguly was gone soon. The others faltered too Despite his resilience, Saha could have failed.

With Bengal needing 25 off four overs with just three wickets in hand, Mohammad Shami, the star pacer in the Duleep Trophy final, cut one fine to third man for four. He then smashed a four and six straight down to close out the match with a 9-ball 22.

A triumphant Ganguly jogged to the opposition dressing room, where a distraught Harbhajan Singh had walked in after a wicketless day. Bhajji had led his young team well, but his former captain perhaps knew a trick or two more.

Brief scores
Punjab 205/8 (M Singh 66, B Sharma 59); Bengal 208/7 (Saha 53 not out; R Golu 3/19)